Posts Tagged ‘writing’

34, 35, 36.

November 11, 2016 1 comment

I was looking forward to this, to sitting down in a little West Philly coffee shop on a fall day, opening my lap top just as I received my tiny cup of espresso, and writing a cathartic, insightful reflection. However, I’ve been have a stand off with my keyboard for 18 minutes. I nearly walked away and just gave myself over completely to Facebook, but I want to be a woman of my word, at least my word to myself. So I’m writing. Reluctantly.

Considering the election this week is aligned with my 35th birthday, it seems like the right time to take stock of things. While the election brings a sense of timeliness and urgency to such reflection, I have been thinking about my next definitive steps for months now. The election seems to mirror the killer bee swarm that’s been my brain. Since the spring, I have been living in a mental hurricane tornado flood. I’ve been so stressed at times that my hands have cramped shut and I though I was going to pass out. I’ve experienced near daily tests of my character. Most of my thoughts question who I am, how I got here, who I want to be, and where I’ll go next. It’s hard to write during a time like this. Yeah, I’ve a few insights and revelations, but I don’t have a clear set of instructions right now. I’m in a strange place where I want to be open-minded, but I’ve already made up my mind. I am really “going through something,” as they say. I can’t write about something when I don’t have resolve.

I am resolute around a few things though. My family is a network of incredible people and I still don’t know how I got so lucky with this. I would hang out with my family even if we weren’t related. My dad continues to show me that people can grow and change, no matter where they are in life. He’s still my #1 motivation/inspiration/hero person. My relationship is making me act more mature and communicative than I feel comfortable with, but that’s what the good ones do. My friends are the best humans, full of empathy, intelligence, curiosity, and goofiness. I have some outstanding mentors in my life, showing me an image of what my life could be if I play my cards right.

Look, I just feel crazy these days and some things are too intense to write about, at least while I’m in the middle of it. I think most of us are in a constant pursuit of contentment and meaning. That process contains the good, the bad, and the forgettable. At this moment, I’m going to hold on to my values and the good influences in my life and my next steps will come. Maybe the bad that came with 34 will lead to good at 35, and if all goes well, 36 will be completely forgettable.


Ideas and Inspiration.

February 17, 2015 Leave a comment

As you may know, I’ve written a book called The Art of Service: A Haiku Collection, which will be officially released on May 2nd. My friend, Dennis, wrote this beautiful post on his blog about art, writing, friendship, inspiration, and community movements to help promote the book. I hope you will read his words, not just because of my book, but because it’s one of the most lovely, genuine pieces of writing I’ve read lately.

Here it is.

This is new.

January 11, 2015 Leave a comment

I don’t want to be afraid, but I am afraid. My biggest fear is the fear of things going wrong–of failing and crumbling. I hate this fear. The thing is, if you’re afraid to fail, you will probably never try anything interesting or meaningful in your life. The fear of failure can lock you into a comfortable, yet stagnant existence.

Since I hate this fear of failure, I battle it all the time. For good or bad, losing my brother at age 17 made think long and hard about the life I want to lead. I have little control over how long I’m here, so I want to experience and give all that I can. I don’t want to miss out. I want to see how far I can go.

Now, in 2015, I am tackling something I’ve never done before. With gentle prompting from my dear friend, Dennis, I’m releasing a haiku collection. This is a real book. I’ve held the proof in my hands. It has a front a back cover. It has a foreword, written by me. It has a bar code. It is blowing my mind.

I have loved to write since I was eight years old when I wrote my first short story. Throughout my childhood, I imagined my adult life as this: Studio apartment with hardwood floors and bare, paint-chipped walls. In one corner, a twin bed. In front of a window, with sun shining through would sit my desk, adorned with a typewriter and an aloe plant. I envisioned a life of coffee drinking and novel writing. That was my dream.

As time passed, my dream morphed into thoughts of journalism. I wanted to travel and talk with new people and always, always write. When I got to college, however, actually studying journalism seemed horribly boring. I would up studying comparative literature so I could dive into a world of language, art, theory, and sociopolitical culture, which eventually propelled me to social work.

I still always loved writing. I love the process more than the finished product, and maybe that’s why I never fully imagined publishing a book in my adult life until Dennis suggested it. Also, I thought when I did write a book, I would be in my 70s and it would be this hilarious, sardonic memoir. Certainly NOT my poetry, which is new in my writing life and not something that I feel 100% confident about. My heart froze when Dennis threw out the idea of releasing a book of my work. It scared me. I felt exposed in a way, like the experience would open me up to either criticism or perhaps worse, radio silence. Like I said though, I hate that fear of failure. I hate it a lot. So I said yes to Dennis.

It’s been a few months since I first said yes. Since then, I just approved the final proof and now it’s time to start getting the word out there. Outside of a resume or an admissions essay, I’ve never had to promote myself. There is a lot involved and Dennis is walking me through it. Fortunately, I have a posse of creative, industrious people in my life who are going to collaborate with me on a couple of promotional projects. New is scary, but sometimes scary is exciting.

If you’d like to the opportunity to receive a signed advance copy of my book, The Art of Service: A Collection of Haiku Poems, please sign up for the mailing list here:

Categories: Life, poetry Tags: , , , , , ,


December 20, 2014 2 comments

I stop writing when it’s best for me to keep writing. There are certain times where I don’t like how I feel–self-doubt, fear, helplessness. Sometimes their volume is too loud and rather than adjusting the noise, I plug up my ears are hope things will change by magic. In these times, I don’t want to write. I don’t want to sit down and face those thoughts. But then nothing changes.

I don’t know what happened. I loved 2013. I won at 2013. This year, though, while some lovely things have transpired, it seems like 2014 is trying to run me over and I’m barely keeping ahead. These past few weeks, I really didn’t know what to do with myself. December 19th marks the anniversary of my brother’s death. Some years, that day is OK. Last year, for example, I don’t remember struggling. I remember being in a good spot. I know I felt sad, but I also know I was OK. Not this year though. I was not OK. As I got closer to December 19th, I grew more and more anxious about not being OK. I kept trying to plow forward, and on December 18th, I had a very quiet melt down at my dojo’s holiday party. Old lesson re-learned: Ignoring your problems doesn’t make them go away. They just get bigger.

So what the heck was I supposed to do?

Yesterday, on December 19th, I sat at my desk, silently wiping away my tears and trying not to hyperventilate so I could keep my office mate in the dark. Clearly, I could not spend the rest of my day like that. I did consider just walking out of the building and never going back, but instead, I tried something different.

I told my friends how I felt.

While I hate being vulnerable, I hate being fake even more. I feel weak when my anxiety takes over, and even when I admit out loud that I can’t always manage how I feel, but pretending kills me. I don’t know what the point is to acting like I’m always fine when I’m not. What is the point of having good people in your life if you can’t be honest? I started to wonder if I always act tough, maybe my friends might hold back from telling me when things aren’t right with them because I might not be able to relate. I don’t want that kind of imbalance in my life.  It took a while to work up to it, but I sent little messages to some of my friends and family to let them know I was having a rough day, and I wanted them know I love them and I’m glad they are in my life. Some of those friends and family were missing my brother as well, so it felt comforting to make that connection. Some of my friends never knew my brother, but because they are outstanding people, their words and gestures of support made me feel like a real person again. In a moment of foresight earlier in the week, I asked my spirit sister, Joy, to hang out with me that night in case I didn’t want to be alone. By the time she showed up at my apartment, I was actually in a good mood. Joy passed off a little care package from our friend, Gatto, which contained, chocolate, cheese, and a peanut butter chocolate beer. My heart exploded.

I didn’t want to write until I had something triumphant to put on paper, some remarkable achievement or landmark. I didn’t want to spend time on doubt and fear. But maybe it’s worth it. Not every post or poem has to be memorable, but there’s value in the process. Silence will keep us stagnant and fragmented. Words will keep us connected.

I want to stay connected.




Haikuesday 10.15.13

October 15, 2013 Leave a comment

I needed a break

to get some inspiration.

I’m ready again.

Categories: poetry Tags: , , ,

Don’t call it a comeback.

For the last month and a half, I’ve been away from two parts of my life that I love a lot: judo and writing. The reason why judo and writing were absent from my life are not interesting or important. All I know is that I thought about those two things everyday while I wasn’t taking part in them.

Two weeks ago, I got back on the mat. I was nervous to go back to training. I was worried about my conditioning and my mental endurance. More than that, I was worried that being on the mat wouldn’t feel the same–that somehow, being away for so long since my spring training was spotty, that I would feel like I was out of place and out of rhythm. I was afraid judo and I wouldn’t still love each other.

When I got to my club, I felt a little more at ease as my coaches and training buddies welcomed me back. Unpacking my gear and getting changed made me feel a little better, too, as I think we all find comfort in our little rituals. After I changed into my gi, I bowed and stepped awkwardly onto the mat. Minutes into the warm up, however, I felt my focus come back. About an hour into practice, I felt more relaxed than I could remember. During my first round of randori, my partner accidentally kneed me in the nose. She felt terrible, and I felt stunned and a little sick. I finished the round, but afterwards I felt really out of it and shaky. I decided to sit out the last half hour of class. Initially, I was disappointed in myself for making that decision and not going for longer. Then I remembered that a part of judo is that sometimes you accidentally get kneed in the face and feel spacey and nauseated. I remembered I was coming back to class the next day and I’d have another chance. Suddenly I realized I felt like my real, true self, more so than I had in a long time. Everything I love about life was on that mat.

And now that I’ve written about that, I feel even better.

Categories: Life Tags: ,

Mirror image.

Yesterday, I hung out with my friend, Brandi, and her little two and a half year-old daughter, Ayva. As we were making plans, it seemed totally natural for me to go to their home to hang out even though, really, Brandi and I almost never chill in person. In fact, the last time we saw each other was this past June or July.  I met Brandi during my part-time AmeriCorps term of service back in 2010 at non-profit youth education organization which specializes in out-of-school time programming. I liked Brandi right away since it was clear to me that she was a) hyper smart b) believed in her work and c) was her own person. (Also, I thought she had really good style.)  Through conversations here and there, we ended up connecting. When I left that job, I had it in my head that I wanted to stay in touch with Brandi. Friendships exists in all forms, and since I finished my AmeriCorps position, my main form of communication with Brandi has been through our respective blogs. So even though we don’t see each other in real life, I still feel like I know what going on with her through her writing and our own little written exchanges.

When I arrived at Brandi’s home, I felt comfortable right away. She was cooking us dinner, so the house was warm and smelled great. Brandi had me sit down while she and Ayva made cornbread. Watching the two of them interact was so relaxing to me. They were such an awesome, adorable team–calm and encouraging, and no fussing when it came time for clean-up. I hadn’t seen Ayva since she was probably less than a year old so I was floored by what a person she’d become. I remember when she could do little more than wave and smile and here she was, laughing, talking, singing. I couldn’t believe how much she’d grown since the last time I saw her.

It’s funny, but in a way I feel as though I got to know Brandi better through those few hours I spent at her home through Ayva. During our visit, Brandi to take a phone call, so Ayva and I hung out just the two of us for a little bit. Since I don’t spend that much time with kids, I wasn’t sure if I could sufficiently entertain her. However, once Ayva very comfortably rested her little elbow on my knee as she began talking about the show we were going to perform, I felt at ease with this little person since she felt so at ease with me. I could see a lot Brandi reflected in Ayva, like the hyper smart aspect and her totally being her own person. For a two and a half year-old, Ayva is pretty self-sufficient and also has some very solid opinions. And like her mama, she’s extremely expressive and  imaginative. For a moment, it felt a little surreal for me to be lounging on a couch, engaged in a weighty debate with a toddler over whether or not apples are a fruit, but I was really having the time of my life. It was fascinating to me to see how Ayva embodies so much of Brandi while she instructed me (gently) and reassured me during our play. It was a lot like way Brandi was talking with Ayva while they made cornbread. And for me personally, I’m always surprised by how much I’ll let a little kid tell me what do. I think under Ayva’s supervision, I drew no less than 30 butterflies.

I don’t know anything about motherhood. I don’t even know that much about being an adult. I do know that both seem impossibly hard. What I saw through Brandi and Ayva, though, is that an amazing, caring person can have an amazing, caring family. Brandi has inspired me since I met her. Yesterday she once again instilled a little bit of hope in me, showing me that some of the hardest parts of life can result in some of the best outcomes.

Categories: Life Tags: , , ,